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Green - Modular Homes

Modular Home Installations
Modular home installations are often accompanied by a crane and other heavy equipment. This visual reminds us that with so much being fabricated pre-installation, there is far less disruption to the homesite in a modular build.
Photo Credit: New World Home |

Going green is all about options.

Traditional or modern. Natural or organic. Renewable or recycled. Products, technologies and footprints ... there are opportunities to be green everywhere, particularly when building or remodeling a home.

Fortunately, builders in the Carolinas are re-training their teams to adapt to these changing technologies and opportunities, and can be priceless guides through the process. One expanding technology available to homeowners (and builders : INSERT URL TO GREEN BUILDERS) is systems building, and it’s definitely turning a few heads.


Throw out all of your pre-conceived notions about systems-built homes.

Today, using the method of prefabricating a home in a climate-controlled warehouse and assembling it permanently on a homesite can result in a beautiful, expertly-crafted and customized home – and one that’s greener, too.

You may know these homes by many names – modular, panelized, prefabricated, systems-built – and some carry better connotations than others, but across the board it’s now time to open up your mind to the new age of modular residential construction. Today’s systems-built homes are truly high-performance homes that are attractive, customizable and extremely well-built. Plus, they have both some inherent qualities, as well as available options, that make them the perfect foundation for a green home.

For the unfamiliar: In traditional, stick-built construction, a home is erected, board by nail by board, on its homesite. Systems-built methods call for the majority of that construction to take place off-site, within a factory. There, the components of the home – whether smaller panels or whole modules containing several rooms – are assembled, up to 90 percent complete, with plumbing and cabinetry and fixtures. Then, when ready, the components are delivered to the homesite and assembled like a 3-D puzzle, quickly transforming an empty site into a recognizable home. The whole structure is dried-in within a matter of days, rather than weeks or months, and then finish work begins.

One of the more prominent benefits is easily apparent – that the home is built indoors, within a protective, state-of-the art manufacturing plant. There is no wind or rain or humidity to contend with, or dirt or debris, which maintains the quality and integrity of the building materials and saving homeowners from expensive losses when moldy or warped materials have to be replaced (which hinders both your budget and timeline). In this way, the materials are also safeguarded from other unfortunate circumstances, such as theft or vandalism.

In addition to keeping all the building materials protected from the elements, the workers and craftsman charged with bringing your dream home to life are also protected from the elements. In the Carolinas, where the weather is beautiful and mild so much of the year, this is not as vital, but still very much appreciated, and happy, healthy workers can more easily focus on their tasks at hand. There are no weather delays, and with a skilled team of workers in place, no delays due to waiting on various sub-contractors who may or may not be up to your desired workmanship standards.

Sounds heavenly, right? There’s more.

In the controlled factory, there is less material waste, which is an important facet of building green. According to New World Home, only 2 percent of materials are typically wasted in modular plants, versus up to 30 or 40 percent with site-built homes. This is due to precision work, and the fact that unused materials can quickly be repurposed for the next home “in line.” At the same time, the construction work is extremely high-quality and durable, as it is made to withstand transportation and installation (often by crane, in the case of modular) at a homesite. This visual reminds us that with so much being fabricated pre-installation, there is far less disruption to the homesite in a modular build.

While there is often additional planning time required with a systems-built home (which is not unlike designing a green home), actual construction time is shortened, particularly onsite, where the difference is drastic. George Watt, the architect behind The Ridge at Chukker Creek (INSERT URL :, a sustainable community(INSERT URL : Sustainable Communities) brimming with gorgeous green homes in Aiken, SC, also promotes systems-built homes. A recent home that he designed using SIPs (structured insulated panels) took approximately an extra month of design time, but the house was erected onsite in four days, eliminating nearly two months of construction time. This can shorten construction loans and interest payments and, as previously stated, makes the home weather-tight very quickly.

The finished home is well-built and durable, meets or exceeds state building codes, and is in line with green standards. As the NAHB Panelized Building Systems Council states, “With such a low margin of error and high amount of precision, panelized homes are known for increased energy efficiency.” Finally, the home’s high-quality construction and green attributes will help it to retain and grow in value as the years go by, protecting your investment.

This all comes about by working with a manufacturer and local builder – the manufacturer to build and (typically) assemble the modules, and the builder to do the site preparation and finish work. Some manufacturers can recommend local builders, but it can work the other way around as well. Some well-known manufacturers servicing the Carolinas include Deltec Homes (INSERT URL : Builder Directory), Handcrafted Homes (INSERT URL : Builder Directory), Haven Homes (INSERT URL : Builder Directory), Homes by Vanderbuilt (INSERT URL : Builder Directory) and New World Home (INSERT URL : Builder Directory). With these and other manufacturers, homeowners can work from a pre-determined house plan or go completely custom. Engineering capabilities differ among manufacturers, but in general, the flexibility is vast – and vastly improving.

Like any growing industry, modular residential construction is still developing, and thus has various kinks to work out. But many agree that the potential for improving feasibility and reducing environmental impact is great … and there are already many happy homeowners who agree.